Alien - Guidelines for Travel Reimbursement

The following guidelines have been developed to assist departments to comply with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) regulations and to minimize exposure to potential penalties and sanctions when reimbursing travel expenses of non-U.S. citizens. Please note that these guidelines should be considered prior to negotiating payment arrangements and requesting a reimbursement of travel expenses for aliens.

General Rules 

  • Prior to the visitor’s arrival in the United States, advise the traveler of their obligation to obtain upon entering the United States an immigration status from the USCIS officer that allows reimbursement for travel expenses.
  • Travelers should be advised that failure to obtain the proper immigration status will prevent UCLA from reimbursing their travel expenses.
  • The immigration status issued to a visitor should be listed on the I-94 Document (Arrival/Departure Record) attached to their passport.
  • United States Lawful Permanent Residents will be able to provide Form I-551, Alien Registration receipt Card (a.k.a. the "green card"), or a DHS issued I-551 stamp in their passport to substantiate their immigrant status. 
  • A passport alone is not sufficient evidence to determine an alien’s immigration status. As a result, the passport should only be used in conjunction with the above referenced USCIS issued forms and stamp to ascertain a nonresident’s immigration status. 
  • In addition, it cannot be assumed that because an individual has previously been to the United States or is currently being reimbursed by another institution, that the individual is eligible for travel reimbursement.

Exceptions to the General Rules

  • Visa Waiver Program: Individuals entering the United States under the “Visa Waiver Program” can enter the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a formal visa. In this situation, their immigration status is designated on Form I-94W, at the time of entry into the United States. 
  • Visitors from Canada: Canadian citizens can enter the United States without a visa or status. However, effective June 1, 2009, Canadian citizens entering the United States without a formal visa or status are required to present specific documents before entering the United States. The link for Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) in related information explains the requirement in more detail. 

    The most common documents will be:
    • A Canadian Passport
    • Enhanced Driver’s License or ID Card
    • Trusted Traveler Program (NEXUS, FAST/Expres, SENTRI enrollment cards)
    • Special situations (see WHTI link)

Canadians who enter the United States without a formal visa or status are deemed to have a B-1 status.

Department’s Responsibility 

  • To ensure that all nonresidents receiving travel reimbursements originating in their department possess the proper immigration status prior to requesting payment.
  • To communicate (in writing) in advance of the visitor’s arrival in the United States the USCIS requirements to the alien.
  • For any resulting fines or penalties imposed by the USCIS and any financial impact due to debarment from Federal contracts in accordance with President’s Executive Order for authorizing reimbursement to an unauthorized nonresident.

Request for Travel Reimbursement for Non-U.S. Citizens

  • Non-U.S. Citizens receiving Travel Reimbursement must complete the UCLA Travel Center: Declaration of Immigration Status by Non-US Citizen Form upon arrival to the campus. This form will assist the department in determining the visitors’ immigration status and eligibility to be reimbursed.
  • The Declaration of Immigration Status form, along with a copy of the visitors supporting documentation (such as I-94, I-94W, etc.) should be submitted to Travel Services along with all receipts or documentation substantiating the expenses being reimbursed.
  • Questions related to UC Travel Policy and allowable reimbursement of expenses should be directed to Travel Services (310) 206-2639 or (800) 235-UCLA (8252).

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